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Read some of our great articles on a range of parenting topics from sleeping to teething. We publish new blog posts regularly and feature a number of baby sleep experts and their top tips

Month-by-month baby nap guide

Month-by-month baby nap guide

Your baby is unique! Though all babies are cute, they all have different needs and likes, and they are born with their own little personalities. This is never truer than when it comes to sleep. Though you’ll be offered lots of helpful advice from friends and family, nobody knows your baby quite like you do, so follow your instincts when it comes to baby sleep.

That said, there are some general guidelines on baby sleep patterns that are helpful for you to use (with a few tweaks that reflect your own child and your situation), so we thought we'd attempt to answer a frequently asked question - how many naps does my baby need?

Why do babies need naps?

Babies need more sleep than adults because it’s during this time that their bodies and brains start to take on the huge job of developing and growing. Babies also rest and re-charge, ready for whatever else life can throw at them. When baby naps, new mums should also try to get a little sleep too, though it doesn’t always work out that way.

How many naps does my baby need?

In the early days and weeks, your baby's routine changes almost daily because they're developing at such a rapid rate, so it’s easier to divide your baby’s sleep needs by age and stage.

Newborn:  Tiny babies to sleep a lot - around 18 hours out of 24. At this stage, there are no real patterns to the naps they take and they should be as and when your baby needs them - allow your baby to lead you at this stage. A sleep routine might not be possible at first and can only become frustrating if you're trying to impose one, so relax for now.

1 to 4 months: Although your baby will gradually start to settle into a routine once the first four weeks are over, this may still change from day to day. Many babies will have four or five naps a day at this age, with (hopefully) longer spells during the night, waking for feeds and nappy changes.

3 to 4 months: At this age, you might notice that your baby takes around four naps a day, but as all babies are different this can vary so it could be three, or it could be five. The key thing is being able to spot your baby’s sleep cues, so that you can settle your baby to sleep just as tiredness kicks in.

5 to 8 monthsAs they get older, babies will naturally drop a nap during the day, so at this stage they will typically have three naps. Like adults, some need more sleep than others.

9 to 18 monthsThis is the time when your baby’s nap routine can really begin to take shape. Some babies may already be in a good routine by this point, though many won't be. By now, babies usually need two naps a day, with some preferring to take longer one in the morning and a shorter one in the afternoon.

15 months to 4 years: From this age, it’s likely that your baby will need only one nap during the day and their night time sleeps will be longer - hopefully they will sleep through the night. Some children will drop daytime naps altogether long before they turn four, so be guided by your little one. Illness and upheavals may mean they revert to having a nap and children of this age will still often fall asleep in the car or pushchair.

How long should my baby go in between naps?

This really depends on your baby. In the early days, newborns may only be able to manage an hour and a half awake - some will power on for two hours. As they grow, the periods of wakefulness will increase but don’t try to keep them awake when you notice sleep cues – you’ll end up with an over tired, cranky baby.

How long should my baby’s naps be?

Again, this changes as babies grow – naps are long when babies are very young and daytime naps get shorter as they get older. As a general rule, less than an hour is not really a 'good nap' but a short cat nap in the morning or late afternoon might do the trick. If your baby wakes up happy and seems rested, then they've probably had long enough.

 

Average sleep durations for children from birth to five years   

Age 

Daytime 

Nighttime 

1 week 

8 hours 

8 hours 30 minutes 

4 weeks 

6-7 hours 

8-9 hours 

3 months 

4-5 hours 

10-11 hours 

6 months 

3 hours 

11 hours 

9 months 

2 hours 30 minutes 

11 hours 

12 months 

2 hours 30 minutes 

11 hours 

2 years  

1 hour 30 minutes 

11 hours 30 minutes 

3 years  

0 to 45 minutes  

11 hours 30 minutes 

4 years  

 

11 hours 30 minutes 

5 years  

 

11 hours 


These are average times, as all babies are different. Some babies may sleep through the night from an early age, while others might still be waking well into their second or third year.  

 

For more helpful posts on baby sleep, visit the following links:

Discover all you need to know about sleep regression

Great tips for napping on the go

Routine or schedule? What’s best for you and your baby?

How to establish a great sleep routine for your baby

 

 

 

 

 

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